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The Foxes Protecting the Hen House

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Nov, 2002 01:55 pm
I can't help being just a little more irrelavant than usual . . .

During his tenure in the House, Lincoln made a fast friend in Fessenden of Maine. After Lincoln was elected, Fessenden, now a senator, was his closest friend and advisor. Lincoln had rewarded Simon Cameron, "political boss" of Pennsylvania, by making him Secretary of War. It was now open season on military contracts (which eventually lead to Cameron's downfall). When Fessenden brought this up with Lincoln at a White House reception, Lincoln said: "Surely you're not saying that Secretary Cameron would steal?" to which Fessenden replied: "Well, he wouldn't steal a red-hot stove."

When Cameron publicly confronted Fessenden about this remark, the sly man from Maine replied: "Why, you're right--I'm sorry i said that you wouldn't steal a red-hot stove."
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Nov, 2002 02:00 pm
Setana
geesh! I thought I was the boss????
In a former job, I worked for a guy named Bruno - he threatened to kill me about 2 -3 times a week. Because I coulndn't control areas of the Company i didn't have responsibility for. Watched the business go from 10,000 worldwide to about 4,000 before I left.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Nov, 2002 02:40 pm
Remind me never to offer you employemnt, Boss, 'k?
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Tue 19 Nov, 2002 11:41 am
S - your Lincoln anecdote is a classic. We certainly don't have a Lincoln in the White House so any deals made behind closed doors are going to be quite a concoction. I'm not as wary about agendas that are obvious than those that are hidden and I believe this adminstration could have as many hidden agendas as the Nixon administration. Politicians don't get elected without them, of course. If they really told us what their intentions are, they'd probably wouldn't have chance in Hell in getting elected. The nobility of Lincoln came out in a crisis of earthshaking proportions, really making this crisis seemingly easy to overcome. It's not and this adminstration is faltering in the winds of fate. I do wish them a providence based on wisdom I doubt they have -- for all of our sakes. Politicians will always take credit for something they had very little to do with and poo-poo the opposition's success in doing something that turned out to be productive. It's this game playing that is the most disturbing and I know it doesn't seem to ever change. I refuse to let it frustrate me -- I may be a sceptic but I'm not a pessimist. A little judicious cynicism never really hurts anything even though wallowing in doom and gloom isn't a good outlook on life. A positive approach is always best but you can't ignore the negative. The negative is what has to be overcome. It don't see this administration bringing the jubilee.
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Hazlitt
 
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Reply Tue 19 Nov, 2002 12:25 pm
Setanta, I also liked the Lincoln story. A classic retort.

Blatham, I've enjoyed your comments about the difference in outlook between the young and us slightly older ones. Thought you might enjoy this quote from Robert Louis Stevenson. It's from his essay "Crabbed Old Age."

It is held to be a good taunt, and somehow or other to clinch the question logically, when and old gentleman waggles his head and says: "Ah, so I thought when I was your age." It is not thought an answer at all, if the young man retorts: "My venerable sir, so I shall most probably think when I am yours."

Incidentally, I fear I may have left you with the impression that I think morality and ethics a relic of the past. Far from it. I think strong corporate ethical codes ought to be enacted into law and that violators ought to be punished. My only point is that corporate executives, raised on the shifting sands of cultural change, may struggle with sticking to the letter of the law. It just won't seem natural to them.

Personally, I like moral codes based on utilitarianism or pragmatism. I know all systems have their short comings. There will never be general agreement on what the underlying substructure of morals and ethics. It is enough that we agree on the tenets themselves.
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blatham
 
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Reply Thu 21 Nov, 2002 12:16 am
Hazlitt

Happy to take a compliment even if misplaced. Likewise.
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ezshooter
 
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Reply Thu 21 Nov, 2002 03:42 pm
Corporate leaders have always been suspect to the nation. Their penchant for greed is why we promote them to their jobs in the first place--we hope, through our stock investments, to ride their coattails to greater riches. Fear and control admininstered by a belligerent government is what will kill our consumer market. Keep us afraid and we don't feel like shopping.
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Dookiestix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Nov, 2002 05:27 pm
I believe our unbridled (and massively marketed) passion to consume, along with an insatiable apetite to use up valuable resources, is pushing the American economy down a path of complete and unsustainable growth, albeit a potential hazardous and steady decline. Politicians use the economy primarily for their own personal and political gain, and therefore are functioning from an altruistic and contradictive philosophy that not only hinders economic growth but makes massive promises to the American electorate that undoubtedly cannot be kept. Special interests are the main catalyst of course, with aggressive lobbying and major paybacks if an election is won. In the end, the American people will always lose.

If we cannot address what is and what isn't sustainable in this "new" economy (an economy that was primarily based on hyperinflated stock prices and massive capital investment in companies with 0% revenues), we will fall be the waistside as unemployment rises exponentially and inflation rules the land.

And what does this have to do with regulation? Apparently, a cop at every signal could have averted the energy debacle and gouging of the California consumer and energy user. But politics and special interests dictated otherwise.

America doesn't realize how corrupt her government and polticians truly are...
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Nov, 2002 06:24 pm
It's one thing for a corporate leader to organize his business so that the sales department is enthusiastic, motivated and using ethical persuasion to increase sales, it's another when they don't have a clue and begin using subtrafuge and deceit to make them appear prosperous. Laissez faire is fine in theory but let these super-entrepenuers out there without oversight and you'd better be afraid to buy. You're likely to get inferior products including their own stock. These are groups of people who come to an agreement to defraud -- this ends up in finger pointing when they get caught and it seems to me only a few end up taking the fall (and they may not be the guilty ones). Makes one think what goes on covertly in deals to take a wrap with a huge fortune waiting for the fallen when they get out. I doubt they have to go out and work again for the rest of their life.

This doesn't mean there aren't some out there who made their money honestly and some polticians who did not collude in unfair business practices. My question: who are they? Would they step forward, please, and introduce themselves? Or is it inviting scrutiny that may end up revealing more than they want revealed?

So these regulations cut back on some profits and means it takes the stock longer to bring a good investment return, not the pie-in-the-sky instant riches some foolishly expect? Isn't that a more stabile economy. Or are we doomed to the bust and boom, loosening standards and tightening oversight rubber band economy we have now?
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Jan, 2003 08:27 am
An old thread comes roaring to life...fishin, now that we know each other better, I thought I'd address some of these questions again.
Quote:
...on November 21, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln looked back on the growing power of the war-enriched corporations, and wrote the following thoughtful letter to his friend Colonel William F. Elkins:
"We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. The best blood of the flower of American youth has been freely offered upon our country's altar that the nation might live. It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country.
"As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless."
from http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/7050, which ought to be read.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Fri 10 Jan, 2003 08:56 am
BLatham, Mr. Lincoln seems to have been quite prescient, n'est-ce pas?

Quote:
. . . and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.


I would like to refer everyone back to the mood of the country just a little over ten years ago. Clinton was largely unknown, but the elder Bush was only too well know. During the debates before the 1980 election, Bush had described Reagan's program as "Voodoo economics"--but given the second slot, he shut up. When he finally took office himself, he did nothing to significantly change economic policy, and it cost him the next election. Business leaders were willing to support Clinton because they felt things could only get better. Why would they feel that way? The germ of the answer lies in the quote above. There are literally millions of men and women in business in this country, either for themselves, or in positions of decision-making responsibility within corporations. The concentration of wealth, and of influence with a particular administration, hurts many businesses--which is why Clinton appeared attractive to businessmen and -women in 1992. They were tired of seeing the few profit inordinately, and looked for a level playing field. When the Shrub and crew got into power, many of their old cronies in the energy industry undoubtedly felt that it was now time for them to have the upper hand. If corruption in corporate board rooms and executive suites is common today, i would suggest that the attitude does not necessarily arise from an inherent venality, but rather from an attitude of "everyone else is doing it, AND getting away with it, why shouldn't we?" I cannot imagine anything more absurd that the concept of laissez-faire capitalism, it has never existed and will never exist. With judicious legislation, and vigorous and fair enforcement, regulation of business conduct will benefit everyone. It's not likely to happen, however, when an industry, in our current situation, the energy industry, feels that it can "buy" an administration. I would venture to say that many in the upper levels of business would rather see no one with any particular advantage, than gamble on getting a deal themselves out of whatever administration happens to be in power. In the end, the best defenders of our marketplaces are the voters themselves--a thought which makes me dispair.
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JoanneDorel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Jan, 2003 09:06 am
The Silent Takeover

An excellant book and on point I think when it comes to who and how the US and World economy shapes up and affects us all.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Jan, 2003 11:47 am
Reagan was on the bridge of a rebounding economy from the inflation and general bad public karma of the end of Nixon's administration through Carter and upturns that naturally occur in the economy. He did do some good things in helping to get the economy going but his foolish statement about "what deficit?" made me apprehensive at the time. He didn't know how to turn the tap off and take steps to cool off the economy before it balooned into unmanageable proportions. The stock market crash was inevitable. Clinton didn't do that much better -- there should have been more tax incentives (not tax cuts) in place by 1998. He was preoccupied with a scandal and a war in Kosovo by the time he could have recognized and done anything about the economy. He was also the typical politician, except his malfeasance was between his legs (and I was dismayed at his audacity and ignorance of what the opposing side and the tabloid journalists could do with his indiscretion). Oversight was taken out of the spotlight and actually made much less effective within the government during Reagan and up through the Clinton Administration. The fox was well fed.
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Fri 10 Jan, 2003 11:49 am
A great book, Joanne.
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